Out of My Mind

The Musings of a Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Nelle Engoron

Nelle Engoron
Location
California,
Birthday
May 01
Bio
You can email me at "nengoron@gmaildotcom" & follow @NelleEngoron on Twitter. My archived radio shows on last season's Mad Men are available (for free!) at: www.blogtalkradio.com/madmentalk **My "Mad Men" commentary for Season 5 is on Salon rather than here -- go to http://www.salon.com/writer/ nelle_engoron/ to find all my Salon articles. **My book, "Mad Men Unmasked: Decoding Season 4," is available on Amazon in both e-book and print versions.** I'm a writer/editor/consultant who lives in the SF Bay Area. I write about all kinds of things, but am particularly intrigued by movies, relationships, gender issues, belief systems and "Mad Men." (Scroll down left sidebar for links to a selection of my blog posts.) I'm working on a novel and a memoir, neither of which is about Mad Men!

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Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 9, 2009 6:06AM

Shut the Door, Have a Seat: Mad Men Season 3 Finale

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 hotel lunch



Do you want to do this, or not?  ~ Bert to Don


Nothing ends without something else beginning.  In perhaps the most action-packed show of the entire series, the Sterling Cooper agency we’ve known comes to an end in the Season 3 finale of Mad Men, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat,” and so does Betty and Don’s marriage, but in both cases the endings are followed by swift commencements of something new:  The Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce agency and the Betty-Henry Trainwreck.  When God shuts a door, he opens a window, but these are mere mortals, and so they only manage to find a place to sit:  Don and his new business partners on the overstuffed chairs of the Pierre hotel, Betty in a first class plane seat on her way to Reno for a quickie divorce.

The episode begins with Don waking up in the spare room that we’ve seen both Grandpa and baby Gene sleeping in, making Don a cross between a newborn and a dead man, which is exactly right for someone who in the course of a couple days ends one life and starts another.  Learning from Connie Hilton that both Sterling-Cooper and its parent company PPL have been bought by McCann-Erickson, which Don sees as “a sausage factory,” he quickly decides he doesn’t want to be the “prize pig” that Connie assures him he’ll be there (after all, pigs get ground up into sausages).  Don’s already been courted by McCann and turned them down (in Season 1), and his contract with SC has felt imprisoning enough – he’s not about to get lost in the crowd at a larger agency.  

But when Don tries to lay some Oedipal accusations on Hilton, blaming him for the contract he finds himself stuck in and rightly accusing Hilton of being manipulative with all the “you’re like a son to me” talk, Connie returns the serve ferociously, posing a question that will recur throughout the episode, of what kind of man Don Draper is and what he really wants:

I got everything I have on my own. It’s made me immune to those who complain and cry because they can’t. I didn’t take you for one of them, Don. Are you?


From that Father Dearest moment with Hilton, Don flashes back to the Depression of his childhood, when Archie pulled out of a farmers' cooperative because the agreed-upon prices for crops fell too low, stubbornly refusing to sell until the bank’s about to take the farm – precipitating not just the loss of it, but (we presume) his own death in a drunken barn accident.   Determined not to die a dog’s death like his father, and fired up by Hilton’s challenge, Don wakes up Bert and proposes that they buy the agency back only to become infuriated by Bert’s initial resignation and unwillingness to gamble his fortune:

Bert:  Young men love risk because they can’t imagine consequences.

Don:  And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing us in with you.

I think that exchange might be a paraphrase of a line from the movie Troy, “Old men talk and young men die," but in any case Don’s entreaty “I want to work.  I want to build something.  How can you not understand that?” seems to exert a powerful pseudo-parental guilt on Bert.  The sleepy old lion bestirs himself and goes back on the hunt, helping Don convince Roger to join them, lest he end up one of those men who retire only to die a few years later because they’ve “lost their appetite.”  (Translation:  Be a man or lose your dick.  Or is that your Don?)

Proving that mens’ relationships are far more simple or sensible or something of that sort, Don quickly makes peace with Roger by acknowledging that he can’t do what Roger does with clients:

Don:  I was wrong.  I can sell ideas but I’m not an account man.

Roger:  You’re not good at relationships because you don’t value them.

Don: I value my relationship with you.

With the Three Musketeers back together, it’s on to figuring out how to save the agency.  Lane Pryce at first throws cold water on their idea to outbid McCann, saying it’s only SC that’s being sold and it’s a done deal, only to have his own ice facial when he finds out that PPL is indeed being sold and he’ll be just another brick in the wall at the new firm.  Having been liberated from merry old England by this news, he’s free to join the colonist revolutionaries in their plans to overthrow the king.  (Thus far proving right my prediction last week of how this plot would go….)

But as usual the person who makes it all work is Don, having one of his trademark flashes of creative genius on how to dream the impossible dream and undertake the illegal mutiny without getting sued.  He suggests that Lane fire the three partners, thus freeing them from their contracts and enabling them to start a new agency right away.  Lane puts up about as much resistance to this idea as a drunk co-ed at a frat party before devising a way to make it work:  He’ll Telex the jolly old home office that afternoon and given the time difference, they won’t get the news till Monday morning, by which time the pirates of Sterling Cooper will have made off with the booty of as many accounts as they can.  And people think modern technology makes their lives better.  Just try pulling this coup off in the age of email, faxes and texts!

As the principals go about assembling their Impossible Mission Force, it’s gratifying to see that they pick our favorite characters to take along with them:  Peggy, Pete, Harry and, in Roger’s one moment of inspiration, Joan.  For of course Joan is the one person who actually knows where the files (and probably the bodies) are buried, as well as being absolutely crackerjack at organizing their new venture from top to bottom.  Pete’s in for a slice of partnership and possibly a title with no adjectives in it, Harry’s in to become Head of Media, and Peggy’s in it just for the chance to say “No” when Roger asks her to get him some coffee.  They soon set about liberating as much material from the office over the weekend as they can, while purloining the clients needed to get up and running.  (Sadly, the keystone account status of Lucky Strikes means Sal’s not going to be invited back any time soon, but perhaps next season Lee Junior will run off to Hollywood and abandon the tebacky business so we can get our Sal back.)

I want to be a partner and I want my name in the lobby. ~ Pete

There’s not going to be a lobby. ~ Don




Nothing good ever came from seeking revenge. ~ Lane Pryce


As one new partnership comes together, another comes apart.  With his marriage to Roger back on, Don comes home only to find out his other one is off, when Betty tells him she’s lawyered up and he should, too.  His reaction illustrates one big reason Betty wants out:

Don:  You haven’t been yourself.  Maybe you need to see a doctor -- a good one this time.

Betty:  Because I’d have to be sick to want out of this?

It’s hard to reconcile the Don who is so intuitive about what consumers and clients want with the man who’s so utterly hopeless at his personal relationships.  He knows how to lie and manipulate, and even how to be honest when he really really has to be, but he doesn’t know how to hear honesty about himself.  He has to deflect it and make it entirely about the other person.  And yet in this episode he makes progress, helped along by the other main woman in his life, Peggy.  Throughout this episode, Don’s relationships with her and Betty are juxtaposed and played off each other, as the two main women in his life stand up to him in ways they never have, in one case to dissolve a partnership, and in the other, to form one, of equals.

We’re not surprised that the first person Don wants in his new agency is Peggy, but he’s initially as clueless and insensitive with her as he is with Betty, expecting her to simply follow him, prompting a long overdue speech from Peggy:

Peggy:  You just assume I’ll do whatever you say, just follow you like some nervous poodle.

Don:  I’m not going to beg you.

Peggy:  Beg me?  You didn’t even ask me.  […]  I’ve had other offers, you know.  They came with a sales pitch about opportunity.  Everyone thinks you do all my work, even you.  I don’t want to make a career out of being there so you can kick me when you fail.

It’s only after he learns from Roger (in a drunken slip of the lip) that Betty is involved with Henry that Don comes to appreciate Peggy, enacting a seeming split of good girl/bad woman (reminiscent of the Jackie vs. Marilyn bra campaign) with Betty’s demotion resulting in Peggy’s literal promotion.  Shocked to learn that his sanctimonious wife has been stepping out on him, Don confronts Betty with an inversion of his usual admonition that she go to sleep – demanding that she “wake up” and tell him who Henry Francis is.  Betty too switches roles, answering with the Don Draperesque lie, “No one.”   But having taught her that game, Don isn’t fooled, and wants her to recognize that she’s as flawed and venal as he is, keeping her own secrets while hiding behind a self-righteous façade:

Because you’re good and everyone else in the world is bad.  You’re so hurt, you’re so brave with your little white nose in the air.  All along you’ve been building a life raft.


Don of course has had his own life raft built, stocked and pointed towards Tahiti more than once on this series, but beyond simply being hypocritical, it’s his ego that can’t bear the blow.  What is really infuriating is that Betty has found him wanting as a man, causing him to snarl, “You got everything you ever wanted and now I’m not good enough for some spoiled Mainline brat” -- an accusation Betty lets soak in like poison by retorting, “That’s right.”  And when he threatens to cut her off financially and take the kids because they’d be better off with him, Betty has her own weapon ready and loaded: “Don’t threaten me.  I know all about you.”  Don’s only response to this is to call Betty a whore, which come to think of it…is what his mother was. So I guess Betty has that Madonna/Whore thing covered from both ends.

After the late night drama, it seems for a moment that Don has come to terms with the divorce when he and Betty sit down to have that agonizing ritual of modern life, Telling the Children About the Divorce.  But even as Betty shakes her head in contradiction and frustration, he fudges and says it’s only temporary, and it’s up to another little woman, Sally Draper, to set him straight:

Don:  I’m not going. I’m just living elsewhere.

Sally:  That’s going. You say things and you don’t mean them and you can’t just do that.  You said you’d always come home.

Don:  I will.  It’s just a different home.

Is it just me, or is Sally showing both her father’s gift with words and her mother’s gimlet-eyed observation of Don’s behavior?  In any case, while he comforts Bobby lovingly, Don seems chastened by Sally’s words, although the woman who benefits from that change of heart is Peggy, on whose doorstep he appears both to apologize and to lure to his new company, acknowledging that he’s seen her an extension of himself when she’s not. But after this budding attempt at seeing women as autonomous creatures, Don slips back into merging himself with Peggy, casting them as twin souls who see the world differently because of their secrets and pain:

There are people out there who buy things.  People like you and me and something happened.  Something terrible.  And the way that they saw themselves is gone.  And nobody understands that. But you do and that’s very valuable.

In a strange shadow of a proposal, far more romantic and satisfying than the overtures she’s been getting from that hickey-biter Duck, Don all but goes down on one knee to woo her, allaying her fears that he’ll never speak to her again if she says No by assuring her that he’ll never stop trying to win her over.  We don’t need to hear Peggy’s answer to know that this is one offer she can’t refuse.

 


We got nothing and we’re about to have less. ~ Don’s stepmother


Throughout the episode, we’re faced with the idea of family:  What is it?  The one you are born with?  The one you grow up with?  Or the ones you make, both in your home and at work?

Family is what Don has always been running from:  the sordid circumstances of his birth, the poverty and abuse in his upbringing, the stealing of another man’s family name.   Family is what he’s avoided, having formed the façade of one with Betty but failing to commit himself fully to it, and signing a contract at work but only under duress and due to the lure of a man who called him“Son” and then betrayed him, as his own father did.  

The loss of fathers weighs heavily on Don in this episode, and yet we know from what he’s told Betty that his life actually got better after Archie died, because his stepmother remarried a man who was good to Don.  But we feel that Don’s children would be worse off without him, and not just because they sadly plead for him not to leave (as all children do when told their parents are divorcing) but because we’re suspicious of the man who wants to be their stepfather – a man who doesn’t want Betty to take any money from Don but instead to rely entirely on him for both her own and her children’s welfare.  

Apparently unversed in Freud despite her time on the shrink’s couch, and relying instead on her fantasy time on the fainting couch, Betty fails to see that she’s about to marry her father, and is trading a man who won’t be controlled by her for a man who wants to control her. But that’s what you get when you divorce a man who's a mystery for one who’s an enigma.  In her haste to leave Don, Betty seems unconcerned about the fact that she knows even less about Henry than she did about Don before marrying him.  As she jets towards Reno, we can only reflect that married she still may be, but divorced from reality she has always been.

Don ends the episode heading alone towards a hotel with suitcases in hand – a lonely image that would seem worthy of Edward Hopper, except for what came before it, which is the formation of a new family.  Having phoned Betty and given her his promise that he’ll give her no problem with the divorce, and telling her he hopes that she gets what she’s always wanted (ah, if only she knew what that was!), Don returns to see everyone working cheerfully together, excited by the adventure of starting a new company.

The proud paterfamilias stands in the corner, looking a bit stunned at the family he’s created out of seeming disaster, and happy to be in their midst.  We’ve seen him in hotel rooms many times before – in solitude, in meetings and in flagrante delicto – but this is the first time we’ve seen him look at home, even if it's the "different home" that he told Sally he was going to.  While the episode started with his father breaking up a cooperative, Don has instead formed one, in both senses of that word, and in doing so, may have finally found a group that he can actually see himself in.  Earlier, as they’d left the pillaged SC offices, Roger and Don had paused for one last look:

Roger:  How long do you think it will take us to be in a place like this again?

Don:  I never saw myself working in a place like this.

We know (even if Roger doesn’t) that Don’s remark has two meanings – both that he ‘s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, but also that the stuffy corporate life isn’t what he’d wanted – or wants.   All along, he’s felt trapped in the gleaming modern offices of SC, just he’s felt trapped in his comfortable suburban married life.  He ends the season liberated, facing an unknown future in which anything can happen – and we viewers also have no idea where these characters may end up.  In telling the kids about the divorce, Don hedges with “It’ll just be temporary,” while Betty sounds decisive, “It’ll be different.”  And yet it seems that they are both wrong. Betty’s headed for a temporary change of man and marriage that will end up much the same, and it’s Don who seems headed for something truly different, even if it's with the same familiar people.

 

Isn’t this exciting?  ~ Trudy












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Hey all, it's been great fun doing this. Thank you so much for all your incredibly insightful comments -- which I expect to continue for this finale! and thank you for coming by each week to read these middle-of-the-night ruminations. I hope to be back with more whenever the new season begins...and who knows, maybe a little extra commentary somewhere in-between.
picking up on your theme of "family"...there were a couple of extra beats in the shot of Don returning to the sitting room of the Pierre suite, when he looks at the assembled crew... his true family (though co workers as family are surely a myth the 90s exploded?).

I for one found the Telling the Children scene heart wrenching...

Next year should be fabulous...

thanks again for the great recaps.
Maybe it was just me, but it seemed in the way he was holding Bobby it was as if he was both comforting Bobby, but also comforting his younger self, coming to understand and accept something about himself.

I have enjoyed reading all of these posts and thank you for taking the time to do so.
This is bad. I now read your analysis instead of watching the show! Hey, it's on too late. What can I say? I never cared about 'spoilers' and the advantage is now I can see it with your clear-eyed analytical perspective (that business of Don sleeping wjere the baby and the grandfather slept would never have occurred to me; now I can savor it as if it was my own idea). So anyway ... now what? I'd say -- pick another show, if there was one worthy of you. Lost, maybe? Friday Night Lights? It's slim pickings out there.
Two weeks ago I commented that your writing was as good as, or better than, anything on Salon.com. I no longer see reason to hedge. Your stuff is better. How much better? If Salon is David Denby, you are Anthony Lane.
All season, I've been struck by the suit of armour in Pryce's office, and the Samurai warrior armour in Cooper's- I wonder if there will be any battles between the two next season?

Also, I was struck by the image of Bobby and Sally left behind in the Draper home with Carla, while Betty, Henry and little Gene run off to Reno for 6 whole weeks. poor kids
Your analysis of this series is stunning.

You deserve front page of Salon for this line alone:

But that’s what you get when you divorce a man who was a mystery for one who’s an enigma.

Yes that is what you get.

Rated and super impressed.
Again, wonderful recap. I loved this show, they brought back Joan, who is a great character and Roger and Don together are a hoot to watch. Now, what are we going to watch though?? Thank you for the great insights, its as good as watching the show again. r
What a fantastic recap for a fantastic episode -- and a brilliant way to cap off "Mad Men." This is an absolutely fabulous piece of writing, Silkstone. Thanks so much for taking us through the season!
Brilliant again (and again, and again...) , and agree Salon should be sweeping you up for this next season.

A few comments:
What do you make of the fact that to Betty and Henry sex seems secondary, vs Don's extra trysts?

Carla in the middle of the kids. Symbolic of things to come in 6os.

Yes, esp interesting that the whole office thing could not have been pulled off today because of info within seconds.

I see Sal returning eventually as either friend or foe.

Joan and Roger will reconnect for sure.

The Peggy/Betty parallel was wonderful.
Each Monday morning I have looked forward to reading your recaps over my cup of tea. I concur with your other readers that your writing is outstanding and your insights are spot-on and often illuminate ideas that, while in the midst of watching the show, I only have hints of.

I'm wondering if it is just me, of if other viewers have become increasingly frustrated with the character Betty. I just about reached wit's end with her last night. I try to remind myself that I'm judging her actions and motivations through my 21st century female view. But still, I've found her inability to articulate what, exactly, she's looking for to be terribly annoying. Wake up, Betty! It will be so very interesting to see what happens to her as the show continues.

I do hope you return with your recaps next season! In the meantime, what on earth will I watch on Sunday nights and what the hell will I read on Monday mornings? Oh well, until next season . . .
Bobby had the best line - "Why are we in the living room?" In 1963 everyone knew the living room wasn't for family!! The 50s were so suffocating, no wonder the country had a massive nervous breakdown by 68.
Very perceptive, Silkstone, thanks!
I'll say it, too. Salon should have let you be a guest columnist to write about the finale of MM. No one could have done it better. I wish there were a way to assure that Matthew Weiner could see your stuff. HE could hire you to help with continuity and then to write an episode. You channel his characters in a way that no one else does (and I read Sepinwall and Maureen Ryan).

The song that was played at the end of the show has stuck with me, and I wonder whether it was the same melody, sans words, that we heard when Don was running with the Jet Set in California last season.

When Don had the flashback about his father, withdrawing from the co-op and dying, I realized that he'd come to the conclusion that he couldn't be the lone wolf any longer and that he needed family -- as you point out it's his work family because that's where he functions best. But the scene of Sally sleeping in Grandpa Gene's bed was heart breaking. Don does love Sally and Bobby, and he was right when he said to Betty, "I'll take the kids; God knows they'd be better off." It would be lovely to see him get custody of Sally and Bobby (by naming the baby after her father, Betty pretty much assured that Don won't have much of a relationship with Baby Gene) and Carla. Don't think that will happen, though. After first yelling at Don about going when he says he's not going, Sally turns on her mother, saying something like, "You made him sleep in Grandpa Gene's room, and it's scary. That's why he's leaving." The kid is so eerily even-handed. Using her as the bullshit detector in the Draper household is a great literary device; I'm not sure all her speeches are realistic for a 4th grader, however.

As you said, it's great to see Roger and Don together again. And who would have thunk that the Pete Campbell of the first season (hell, even the beginning of this season) would become a valued partner of Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce. I was thinking of the difference between MM and The Sopranos, which I also loved, and the biggest difference is that many of the characters in MM change and grow, but in the Sopranos, those who weren't whacked never developed as human beings -- in the context of the Soprano family, personal growth was not possible.

Well, Silk, (if I may address you by your first syllable) I'll miss these Monday morings and I'll keep checking to see if you're writing anything else. Can't wait for next season -- do you think we can hope that Season 4 happens before next summer?
I'll say it, too. Salon should have let you be a guest columnist to write about the finale of MM. No one could have done it better. I wish there were a way to assure that Matthew Weiner could see your stuff. HE could hire you to help with continuity and then to write an episode. You channel his characters in a way that no one else does (and I read Sepinwall and Maureen Ryan).

The song that was played at the end of the show has stuck with me, and I wonder whether it was the same melody, sans words, that we heard when Don was running with the Jet Set in California last season.

When Don had the flashback about his father, withdrawing from the co-op and dying, I realized that he'd come to the conclusion that he couldn't be the lone wolf any longer and that he needed family -- as you point out it's his work family because that's where he functions best. But the scene of Sally sleeping in Grandpa Gene's bed was heart breaking. Don does love Sally and Bobby, and he was right when he said to Betty, "I'll take the kids; God knows they'd be better off." It would be lovely to see him get custody of Sally and Bobby (by naming the baby after her father, Betty pretty much assured that Don won't have much of a relationship with Baby Gene) and Carla. Don't think that will happen, though. After first yelling at Don about going when he says he's not going, Sally turns on her mother, saying something like, "You made him sleep in Grandpa Gene's room, and it's scary. That's why he's leaving." The kid is so eerily even-handed. Using her as the bullshit detector in the Draper household is a great literary device; I'm not sure all her speeches are realistic for a 4th grader, however.

As you said, it's great to see Roger and Don together again. And who would have thunk that the Pete Campbell of the first season (hell, even the beginning of this season) would become a valued partner of Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce. I was thinking of the difference between MM and The Sopranos, which I also loved, and the biggest difference is that many of the characters in MM change and grow, but in the Sopranos, those who weren't whacked never developed as human beings -- in the context of the Soprano family, personal growth was not possible.

Well, Silk, (if I may address you by your first syllable) I'll miss these Monday morings and I'll keep checking to see if you're writing anything else. Can't wait for next season -- do you think we can hope that Season 4 happens before next summer?
Sorry for the double post. I clicked once too often.
Oooh Silkstone, I'm with Stephen! Please, please, please pick Lost or Friday Night Lights to do your insightful commentaries upon next!
I agree with everyone that your insights are far more interesting than the commentary I'm reading on Salon. Editors, are you listening?
Thank you for a season of illumination.

This episode was almost wholly satisfying after a draggy season with too much emphasis on Don and Betty. The only thing missing in the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is Sal and I hope they find a way to bring him back. I've been yearning all season for Don to break away from his increasingly imprisoned position at SC and start his own agency...I didn't even dream of anything quite as delicious and exciting as this.

Joan! She sweeps in to take charge of the details none of them know and it's a treat to see her firing on all cylinders.

I've never been a fan of Pete's, but he grew up more than a little with this new challenge and with the support of Trudy. Trudy is a gem and a real partner to Pete.

Betty has demonstrated once again that she is shallow, vapid and dependent. As justified as she may be to want a divorce, she made no attempt to forge a life on her own. She has enough resources to make a go of it, with half of her father's house and the almost certainty of Don making sure the children wouldn't suffer deprivation. Instead she needs a man to keep her in 'the style to which she's accustomed'. To latch on to a man she barely knows who promises to take care of her and the children is her living in a fantasy world. My disgust with her was topped off with her not even waiting until after Christmas to fly away to Reno with Henry. She can't put her children first for even a few weeks. The only thing I want to see of her next season is the crash and burn of the new relationship.

I'm looking forward to the next season and your wonderful contribution.
Everyone is so frustrated by Betty, but she's not that hard to understand. She embodies the German-American ideal mother of the post-war period - strict, clean, orderly, undemonstrative, yielding to authority, and dependent. She looks EXACTLY like she stepped out of a 50's wall calendar, the kind my grandparents used to get from the German/Polish grocery store. The attention to detail and accuracy on this show is both wonderful and cathartic! I want to have some compassion for Betty, though. There's a price to pay for being dependent.
I read so many excuses for Betty based on the time period and I disagree. Society and rights for women were different, but strength and independence in women is not a 21st century invention. People haven't changed that much in the last 40 - 50 years...really.
Suzn, you're right, and that's what I was try to say when I mentioned my frustration with Betty's inability to even define what it is she's looking for. I've found it increasingly difficult to have sympathy for her character, especially this season.
Should you choose to pick up the slack, I vote "Friday Night Lights," a show that has never gotten what it deserves. As for MM, damn Comcast charges me too much for it, so I have friends record it for me, but also look forward to your insight because I need to be told the real behind-the-scenes stories. I can't seem to suss out all the nuances you do. Thank you.
Dear Silkstone,

Your commentary has engendered ambivalence about Monday mornings. I look forward to reading your analysis of the previous night's episode, but, well... it's still Monday morning.

I have enjoyed your "middle-of-the-night ruminations" immensely. I eagerly await the next season of "Mad Men" and your illuminating and entertaining insight into the story and the characters.

Great job!
A thought on Betty -- despite her resentment of her mother, she's exactly the kind of woman she was trained to be. Her time in Italy in college and her very brief time in Italy with Don are probably the only times she's ever broken the mold. I doubt that Henry will like to see her dressed like someone out of La Dolce Vita. There are reasons for her character, but even within the confines of the time, she could have more compassion for her children. Has anyone else noticed that she was wearing bright Pucci-like outfits right after Baby Gene was born, but as her (all of 2 hours) relationship with Henry Francis developed, she's dressing more and more Mainline, with the sweater sets and pearls? Damn, Weiner's good.
Thanks, Silkstone, for this thorough and final synopsis until Season 4. Rated.

@Huggybear29: I also laughed outloud at the "Why are we in the livingroom?" line. I remember those times when the living room was for anything but living. I almost missed the rest of the scene, I was chuckling so much.

Not mentioned, yet, but something I noticed for some reason, was when Don called Betty a whore, she went over to pick up the crying baby, turned, and almost posed for Don as if to convey that she could carry off the Madonna image so well, nobody would ever believe the whore accusation. After all, she carried that off in the lawyer's office when denying involvement with Henry. I know she was denying a physical affair, a legal technicality, but one shake of her head had the lawyer physically retreating in embarrassment.

When Don and Roger visited Pete Campbell at his apartment, did Pete look, well, modern, with his hair brushed over this forehead, and eyes wide? I only noticed because of the next scene when his hair was side-parted and slicked again. Makes me wonder how a character that has been set up to be sneaky and pathetic will turn out?

I also appreciate the posting of the picture from the hotel. There is something very painterly about the composition.

So does anyone know when "Breaking Bad" starts up again?
First thanks for your excellent commentary on the series. It has added quite a bit to my enjoyment of the show.

I found it very interesting that Don completely dismissed the possibility of the Hilton account when the partners were trying to put together a plan to see if the new venture would fly. Since Lane emphasized how much they needed in billings, it seemed to be quite a statement from Don to not consider Hilton when he's found it necessary to mend fences with Roger, Peggy, and Pete to get things going. If it weren't for Hilton giving him the heads up, they would have been completely blindsided by the sale of SC.
One thing I thought about this morning is I wondered if in putting together the new agency if Don wasn't using the tactic of drawing people in by figuring out some personal thing they needed to hear from him and saying it that Conrad Hilton had used on him? All the key players seemed to need to hear from Don that he realized that he did need them in various ways. And with each one Don was able to identify that need and satisfy it.

Again an excellent review. Better than the one that is on the main Salon page.
Joan really comes into her own again in this finale--when the men realized they had no idea where the paperwork was on their client lists! That was how women office workers exercised power in those days; they created impenetrable filing systems. Many a middle-aged woman was able to hang onto her job simply because she knew where all the important files were. So it makes sense that the ever-shrewd Joan would would have created her own filing labyrinth as office manager. I also liked seeing her boss everybody around in the hotel room--she's a woman who has no problem exercising power. She loves it!
And, thanks again Silkstone for your great recaps! I looked forward to them on Monday mornings. I hope you find another show on which to exercise your astute commentary skills--we all look forward to reading them!
Dear Silkstone, I feel like I'm attending the most marvelous literary class when I read your posts. Thank you for your delectable writing.

A note about Pete. He seemed incredibly surprised and happy that Don didn't try to first snap up Ken Cosgrove. Wouldn't that be due less to Pete's client list and more because savvy Don knows Pete has vital information about him that Ken does not? And despite his admiration for them, the same goes for Bert Cooper and Peggy Olsen. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Your Season 3 Finale analysis was great! I have enjoyed all of your reviews and with each have leraned things about the show I just watched that I had missed. Thanks again for your insight and humor.
Thank YOU!~ These essays have been wonderful, something to look forward too--as always, you picked up many things I missed--and you got exactly what I couldn't put into words--Don did seem like the proud papa looking at his bustling brood at the end--but of course we all felt a little that way, seeing the gang together (well, not Sal, but he'll return, surely) for a "let's put on a sh0w" moment in their makeshift headquarters.

Like another reader, I found the kids scene heartwrenching--for once they are not being told to go to their or watch TV. For once they are being told something--and what a bomb it is. I also agree that it as if Don was clutching his young self who had lost a father. I also found the scene where Sally is sleeping in the "creepy" room
touching--kids think exactly like that--that a certain room is creepy--but she had the guts (and the sense of impending doom, loss?) to wait for her dad there. Love the way Don doesn't disturb her and climbs in next to her. It's hit and miss with Don and the women in his life--but maybe after all it will be Sally who will be the truth to power and show him how to love without guile, without conditions, without controlling. with respect--let's hope the series lasts long enough to see her grow.

And you are so spot on about Henry-Betty--that thing about the money was creepy--and of course is about controlling her. Damn, when WILL Betty do something without that anthropology degree (and Italian)--maybe that is just the a huge joke on the writers' part?

Finally, what do you make of the scene with the kids and Carla at the end? She is sitting with them on the couch, like she did with Betty at the news of JFK's assasination-the kids seem rather content. Is she their new mom as Betty explores that great anthropological phenomenon, getting into an even more disasterous second marriage? As the African-American nanny/maid was for Betty (we met her briefly when Betty traveled to Philly after her Dad's stroke)? Seems a little cliched--but probably quite true in many cases.

Thanks again for your sleepless Sunday nights!
P.S. I second third and fourth the sentiment you are the best one out there writing about this-
Thanks so much for doing these weekly analyses. You've really deepened my understanding and appreciation of the show, making a season that was lackluster in some ways more enjoyable and interesting. I look forward to seeing more from you!
Silkstone, I'll miss your recaps almost as much as the show!

For me, one of the most telling moments was Don's memory of his father's death. Hadn't he been blaming himself all this time? Yet now we see it was a combination of drunkenness and the horse getting spooked by the lightning. So maybe he really is moving on, having resolved this.


I loved Pegy's telling off Don and refusing to get coffee for Roger.

I loved seeing Don typing his own stuff and being so happy he was even nice to Trudy.

Wondering: Do you think Don meant all that praise for Pete or did he just want Pete for his clients? Not that Pete didn't deserve the praise - but we know how Don dislikes him. Then again, respect and affection are two different things as we have often seen here.

When does Sason 4 start? :0)
I have enjoyed so much your recaps/commentary--so insightful (and here I am the psychotherapist!). Your perceptiveness is what has led me to begin watching the series (only within the last six weeks). Now I am going to spend the winter catching up on the episodal history by DVD or hulu. I've also looked back through some of your archives and was pleasantly (?) surprised to discover you have some of the same angst I experience when forced into the suffocating trance of those times revealed by Mad Men. (I am Peggy Olson...)--I'm not Peggy, but I have my own story, and I'm realizing more and more the need to express it. After Revolutionary Road opened a rift in me about as subtle as the one forming in the Sahara, I found myself drawn to the movies of my youth which activated that same core feeling of being buried alive. I'm still searching for meaning. Anyone read 1959, The Year Everything Changed?
Hi folks, just a quick comment as I have a meeting I have to go to for a few hours but will be back later to respond to all your comments, which I just read through with great enjoyment, as always. more later!
Not only does the series go on hiatus, so does your commentary...

Any chance you can offer insights for my other favorite show - Breaking Bad? I would love to read your recaps on Walter White and his "family" !
Awesome recap finale. It resonated with me from start to end. For a moment there I thought Don might take the kids and dump them with Suzanne. But I think that was just wishful thinking. Plus that would have been one more woman he's taking for granted. I think Don and you are far more grounded that I or Betty.

I really didn't want that episode to end. And sorry to see your recaps end too. When they start airing season 3 of In Treatment you'd be a natural for that.
Silkstone, I hope you're basking in the glow of the well-deserved praise you're getting for your analysis of this season. I know that these posts have helped me to understand and appreciate this show more than I ever could have on my own. (And to those who say it's just a television show, I say so what? It's a good television show!)

I do have to say, though, that I certainly won't be missing the commercials for Clorox and Canada Dry Ginger Ale!
Yes! This has been great--Mad Men and your blog about it. I am so sad that it is over for this season--it went way too fast. I feel like it just started. Thanks!
I think the kids are better off with Carla than that Mom!!
*sigh*...I can't believe my Mondays with Silkstone can really be over!

I enjoy your writing, especially the delicately picked quotes dropped in between the paragraphs that help develop your "thesis" weekly.

One final note on Betty/Peggy...I just kept wishing, as Don went to see Peggy and confessed his "need" and respect for her and what she does that he might have done that with his wife before things unraveled to this degree. He was not a good nurturer of his most important relationship, as Roger said, he didn't "value" relationships. It makes me really sad for his kids. As a step-daughter to an abusive step-mother myself, I dread Henry's entry to the family. He really is an enigma.
P.S. Thank you!! Great posts! This show is my escape before starting the week, but also a walk down memory lane from that era! Great fun! Great writing!
OK, got a little reprieve on my meeting so will try to answer most of these before I have to get out the door --

First, a general thanks for all your extremely kind and generous compliments. I appreciate them more than you can know.

Brian, yes, that scene with the kids was wrenching. My partner K, who has lived that scene as a parent, was having trouble watching it.

Susanne, that's a fantastic catch about Bobby also being the young Don that adult Don is comforting. I think that's absolutely right.

Steven, thanks! I'm a bit too tired to think about blogging about another show just now. this has been a labor of love, though.

DB, as a big Anthony Lane fan, I'm stunned by that one!

Peppermint, that's a fantastic catch about the armor and samurai. I can see it -- I think Bert and Lane have a lot of similarities. I also agree that it struck me how callous Betty was to abandon Christmas with her kids to get divorced. Actually that smelled a bit like plot device for a TV season finale - -I had a hard time thinking even Betty couldn't wait 2 weeks till after Xmas.

Dorinda and Rita, thanks!

Thomas (and Kerry out there somewhere), thank you so much for giving me the forum, both on OS in general and on the front page - it's been a thrill!

Lea, thanks! and I agree the sex vs. no sex thing is interesting. It's why I called Henry the classic boring man you take for a 2nd husband (in last week's recap). I'm assuming Betty feels something for him when she kisses him, but obviously it's mostly security and respect, not sex, that attracts her. Carla in the middle of kids -- you know, I had to think, poor Carla, she has to stay there for 6 whole weeks to take care of the kids?? What about her family? And why doesn't Don just come home and stay with the kids while Betty's in Reno??

Meow, I agree - we view Betty from 2009 and she's a woman who was born in the 1930's! I've been meaning to bring that chronological fact up all season. it's a huge difference. In many ways, she is very modern, for her time.

Huggy, I laughed out loud at the living room line just as you and others did. We actually were allowed to play in our living room but it was unusual in that era. (And my mother also got a decorator in that era who recommended the same shade of orange as Betty's couch!)

Adele, thanks so much. And I really like your comment about The Sopranos. I loved that show and put it near the top of all TV shows, ever, but you're right -- as sociopaths, those characters couldn't grow and change. In a way, that is an even bigger testament to that show -- that it was so complex and held our interest despite that! But MM is deeper and more intimate because these are people like us who go through life and do change, even if it's slowly. I also loved Sally's comment about B making Don sleep in that creepy room. I think many kids her age thought the way she does (I did), but it was less common for kids to speak up the way she does in that era. But remember she is a boomer!

Newsie and Voice, thanks!!

Suz, thanks! I've loved the Pete and Trudy interaction in the past few episodes. I loved just her voice coming from the bedroom, "Peter, can I talk to you?" when she's obviously eavesdropping and thinks Pete is blowing his chance. That whole sequence in their apt was great. And I like how their characters are developing. I don't think Betty's attraction to Henry is so much about money as about the social security of being a man's wife vs. being that dreaded commodity, a divorced woman. We saw how they're seen and treated when one moved into the Drapers' neighborhood. Betty fears that greatly. She needs Henry to define who she is in a socially acceptable way. I think she really has no idea who she is unless society tells her. At least, not yet. And as I commented above, I also found it stunning she can't wait till after Xmas, but felt it was a bit of a convenient plot device. Still, adults were more "selfish" in that era, in which they came first and kids came a definite second.

Huggy, thanks so much for that insight about the German-American style. She does say she's Nordic so think she's of that extraction but the point is the same. It's a very very different style of mothering than we have today. I do think she's a bit extreme even for that era, but it definitely was different than now.

Jfern, thanks!

John, you made me laugh! thanks.

Adele, great catch on the sweater sets. I was thinking she looked very conservative on the plane but thought it was more about people dressing up for airplanes then.

Flyover, thanks! Yes, Betty does do a perfect pose there, and uses the baby almost as a shield between her and Don. A silent accusation that does seem to cool his jets a bit. I also agree Pete looked different in the apt -- more like the actor probably does in real life. It's amazing how hair gel can change a person in time.

Harry, I also thought Don was a bit dismissive about Hilton. I wasn't actually completely clear on why Hilton wouldn't take his account to McCann. So I didn't know if Don was speaking about a legal thing or if he just was cutting himself off from a man who manipulated him. I thought more the latter.

Ted, thanks! And that insight about Don is really brilliant. I think you're right. I wonder if he knew he was being manipulative or if he felt he was being sincere? I think it was a mix of both, myself. I think the crisis pushed him to tell people what he really thought about them -I don't think he said anything that was untrue -- but also that it was entirely expeditious, like telling a woman she's beautiful so she'll sleep with you.

Too true, I had wanted to comment on the office manager power thing, but you did it far better than I could! I've seen that up close -- and you're right, it was even more prevalent in the paper era. But it wasn't just the women exerting power - -it was about that supposedly unimportant stuff being thrust on them and the pros and execs having no idea about the day to day details of running an office. That was "women's work" and beneath them even though it was essential. I also agree Joan is very comfortable with power. She reminds me of other secretaries I've known, who could have been generals.

Unmarbled, that's a good guess about Pete, but I do think Don genuinely likes him better than Cosgrove, in part because Pete is ambitious. I think Don feels that hunger will serve a young agency far better than Cosgrove's laidback style. Ken wouldn't go after things the way they need the Accounts guy to in this scenario.

Stuart, thanks!

MaryCal, I so wanted to put in the "let's put on a show" reference! But I didn't know if that would make sense to people. But it kept popping into my head. It was great fun to see their energy and excitement and happiness at what they were doing. Everyone came alive in a way we've never seen before. And yes, I think Carla is destined to be more of a mother figure to the kids and that Betty is replicating her own upbringing - and that of many upper middle class and rich kids, who had nannies of some kind who were more maternal than their cold mothers. And thanks for the compliment!

Nick, thanks!

Kay, I completely agree about Don even seeming to enjoy Trudy. He was like a kid that had found the club he belonged to and seemed as happy as we've ever seen him. I commented above about Pete - I think Don meant what he said to him even if he was also manipulating Pete. I think with Don, compliments are always based on truth. It's accusations that may be filled with lies.

In her own, thanks! and yes, for me, this era is endlessly evocative as I start to open up what it was like for my mother and other women as well as what I saw and experienced growing up. Revolutionary Road was wrenching. It's interesting this time is being held up to the light now.
* A scene that demands rewatching: Don seems to make up his mind to call Betty and tell her to do what she wants when Pete's wife pops into the hotel room to distribute sandwiches and cake.

* The dismay in the Sterling Cooper offices on Monday morning is wonderful to behold. "We've been Left Behind!"

* Breaking Bad restarts in March. A frigging painful four months of waiting that will be.
I echo the others' sentiments: your analyses are the best! I have a question, though, about your observation that we see Don with his suitcases at the end of the episode going to his hotel. I thought that he was going up the steps of a brownstone, probably to the furnished apartment that he'd asked Joan to get him. What do you think?
I LOVED LOVED LOVED the episode and will greatly miss--until next year--your great posts.
I can't stop thinking about this episode, thanks in part to your recap. The thing that keeps coming back to me (apart from my deep desire to see Jane walk into the new company managed by Joan) is just how sinister I find Henry. This guy has been on the hunt since he first cruised her as a visibly pregnant wife. Then that sly way he's been playing her disatisfaction so that it's been her pursuing him. And now he's rushing her off to a quickie divorce with no settlement. Something tells me we're going to be seeing a somewhat blowsier version of Betty next season as the unhinged divorcée. Which would be okay, except for that sad scene of the two kids alone watching television once again.
Oh yeah, and he's been talking about to his DAUGHTER. No wonder his daughter has no boundaries and goes blabbing the secret to Margaret Sterling. This is not a healthy situation.
I don't know which I'll miss more, the episodes or the recaps!

I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this:

The episode begins with Don waking up in the spare room that we’ve seen both Grandpa and baby Gene sleeping in, making Don a cross between a newborn and a dead man, which is exactly right for someone who in the course of a couple days ends one life and starts another.

Wish I could rate it twice.
You didn't miss a single nuance here. I like the way you connect Don's unresolved mother/father issues with Betty, Peggy, Burt, Connie.

A few thoughts I had at the end of the program. First of all - wish it was the new season already!

Don almost completely lost me forever when her called Betty a whore and pushed her around. Glad she didn't crumble, but I agree that she can only be headed for a trainwreck.

Brilliant way to bring Joan back in. It was all kind of kum bye yah there at the end. I'm wondering if Pete Campbell will get bit in the a.. eventually; he didn't get a promise on any of the elevation in status/recognition he asked for. Also wonder about a Peggy/Don hook-up - loved her telling Roger she would not get coffee. Also wonder when Peggy's son by Pete will come back to haunt.

And don't you just love Trudy and her perfectly coordinated hats? My two daughters recently received vintage hats from my dear friend as a gift for their college graduation (warning: blog whoring and my kids are so cute sentimentality ahead.) I did a post with pictures:

http://open.salon.com/blog/teresa_m/2009/10/25/i_couldnt_help_myself

just go check the picture - they're beautiful - the hats and my girls!

Lastly, it would be cool if they somehow followed these characters all the way up to the current day. It would be cool to see how they all evolve with the changing technology (as you referenced earlier) and the politics. There is a lot of story left in all these people. Could be a very fun ride and then to be able to catch up with Don as a retired senior .......
As usual, a few random thoughts before my "real" thoughts:

Silkstone: "When God shuts a door, he opens a window." Sometimes though God, being a comedian (look at the duck-billed platypus!), opens the window on the second or third story, so you're not sure if you're going to escape cleanly, or break your leg in the attempt. That God; what a joker.

Silkstone: "Just try pulling this coup off in the age of email, faxes and texts!" Simple version: "Our servers must have gone down." Complicated version: have your most gonzo IT guy make sure that the outbound email is delayed by 8 hours.

One of Heinlein's characters said, "Every new law opens an opportunity for graft." Every new technology opens an opportunity to use it as an excuse.

(Speaking of which, did anyone else notice during the Kennedy Assassination episode that the phones in Sterling-Cooper all went silent simultaneously? I've read that that actually happened in New York that day. Nice touch.)

Silkstone: "It’s hard to reconcile the Don who is so intuitive about what consumers and clients want with the man who’s so utterly hopeless at his personal relationships." Programming. He's programmed to expect one thing from clients, and a completely different thing from the category of being known as "wife." He seems to be able to change his client programming protocols; can he change his programming when it comes to women? (Doug's guess: probably not.)

Silkstone: "Throughout the episode, we’re faced with the idea of family: What is it? The one you are born with? The one you grow up with? Or the ones you make, both in your home and at work?"

The older I get, the more I feel that the only correct answer to this is, "Yes."
Thanks for the further comments, everyone!

Juliet, I so agree that Henry is sinister! I think Betty's done the proverbial leap from the frying pan into the fire. I was actually talking to the screen again, muttering about how bad a mistake she was making.

Jeanette, thanks! But what about Clearasil? Are you sad they lost the pimple market?

Cathy and Tiger, thanks!

Yek, I also thought that what he said to Peggy should have been said to Betty as well. I meant to put that into my write-up. He's not speaking to just one woman at that moment.

Stefan, you made me laugh out loud with "Left Behind"! And Kinsey's "oh crap" reaction after running to see if Peggy was part of the Chosen who were snatched up in the Rapture was priceless.

Fair, I doubt Joan could have found Don an apt in the time between them all leaving the office (which is when he tells her needs one) and his arrival with suitcases right after that. She's amazing, but not a magician. He said he'd be at the Roosevelt hotel but needed her to find him a place. I expect that next season we'll see him in his little bachelor pad.

Lisa and Yakky, thanks!

Teresa, thanks. Yes, they are all united now and I think that's true to how small groups band together under tough circumstances - there's an intense camaraderie. But it won't last, of course, and there will be sniping and competition. But I'm looking forward to seeing how this lean and mean little agency works. It does really juice up the show. I doubt we'll get to the present day, but Matthew Weiner has said he wants to get to the end of the 60's, which will be great if it happens. And yes, Trudy and her hats have really won me over. She makes me smile now every time she appears.

Doug, good call on the ways technology can still be used as an excuse. Still, I think they'd expect texts on their Blackberries, not to mention perhaps a good old fashioned phone call these days with such important news.

I agree with your insight on Don's interpersonal skills (or lack thereof). It's just always a shock to see the split in his skill levels. But it's very realistic and believable especially for that era. And it still goes on -- many people are great at work and suck at their home life.

And I also liked the phones thing in the assassination episode. It was so sudden, though, that I thought it was not that people stopped calling all at the same moment than that the SC switchboard girls broke down crying at hearing the news and stopped connecting any calls. But either way, it was chilling how it signaled that normal life came to a halt.
One more thing about this episode -- yet another reference to "The Misfits." Viewers will remember the plot thread earlier in the season where an old flame of Roger's, heiress to a dog food company, came to the firm asking them to reposition horse meat as a proper thing for dogs (at least) to consume, since everyone was upset that the film "The Misfits" exposed the dirty truth that dog food is horsemeat.

Much was made of the "misfits" theme as it applies to characters. But the whole Reno divorce is another tie to the film. It was when Arthur Miller was staying on a dude ranch near Reno for the purpose of getting his divorce from his first wife, Mary, that he got the idea for "The Misfits," short story and screenplay. So it's Henry and Betty who are becoming "misfits" by going to Reno.
Heh-heh-heh.

Something just occurred to me.

Even if Henry proves to be a boring, respectable second husband for Betty . . . can you picture him handling the soon-to-be-adolescent Sally?

To bad John Hughes isn't around to guest direct that story arc . . .
Juliet: "Something tells me we're going to be seeing a somewhat blowsier version of Betty next season as the unhinged divorcée."

Which brings the reactions of the residents to the divorcée in the first season around full circle, doesn't it? How is Betty's friend Helen going to react now, eh? (It is Helen, right? So many characters on this show . . .)
I just had a chill rereading the recap and the comments regarding the direction of the Bette/Henry relationship. I was reminded of hearing that in abusive relationships, one of the red flags of the abuser profile is that abuser pushes quickly for marriage and quickly begins to isolate the victim to rely solely on him.

In retrospect, Henry has been all along very eerily removed and methodical.

Just thought that I'd throw that into the mix!

Also, want to echo the thanks expressed by others for your high quality effort here.
It brought back memories. More new agencies have started this way. It cost relatively little compared to other business to start an agency. All it takes is a disgruntled AE to start the ball in motion.

In the Mad men days most agencies gave away creative and operated on the 15-20% commission plus 17.65% markup on outside services. So a 35 million in billing would be around 5.25 million in revenue. Not a bad start up for a new business venture even by today's standards.
Mark, great observation! I hadn't thought about the Reno connection.

Teresa, I think it would be interesting for the show to explore domestic violence of upper middle class women if it turned that way between him and Betty. But his daughter seems to like him, so it seems unlikely he's that bad. I think he's going to more of a run of the mill control freak traditional possessive type who makes her feel caged. The question will be if it makes her run back to Don or not....

Doug, I definitely think Betty is running from the specter of Helen, not wanting to end up like her, and that's why, despite flirting with it earlier, she would only actually divorce Don if she had another man waiting for her.

Owl, thanks!

MTodd, I was so hoping you'd come by and weigh in about the agency stuff from your experience! and thanks for crunching those numbers -- I had no idea how to do it. That actually sounds like a very respectable amount of money to make and get an office up and running, esp with so few employees to start with. I'll be curious if they try to model the new agency after one of the smaller more innovative agencies that sprang up in that era. I would think that Don, Peggy and Pete might tilt it that way and bring the rest along for the ride.
What a great finale. So it's now a long 39 weeks till Season 4? Yikes! That's practically a whole gestation period!

I really enjoyed the round-up of all the fave characters. It reminded me of the Blues Brothers trying to get the band back together, though the ad men are hardly on a Mission from God.

Someone mentioned that when Don was wooing Pete, his pitch was probably a mix of truth and salesmanship. I agree. Don's advertising talent is so embedded that I doubt he even considers whether something is true; more like whether it will resonate. And like any gifted salesman, he instinctively knows it's better to stick close to the truth.

I still can't quite buy the impending marriage between Betty and Henry. They've spent too little time together and he hasn't even got to second base yet. For the good of the story I suppose she has to ditch Don but this is an implausible way of going about it. She sure won't be happy with him for long.

On the other hand, I'm very happy that Peggy had more to do this week and certainly in the future. It's almost unbelievable how inept was Don in his first attempt to recruit her. Had I not seen stuff like it first-hand when I was working for a big multi-national in the late 70s, I'm not sure I would have accepted this. Her rejection was right-on - him reaping the praise and she the blame while she was doing the heavy lifting.

So it's great to see the happy family ready to put on a show. But future rifts abound. How long before Bert's renewed enthusiasm wanes? How long before Roger and Don have their inevitable showdown? When will Pete demand what's his for bringing in the bacon? Or when he grows his hair? What kind of karma-rocking will ensue when Roger and Joan relive old times? It's one thing to manage an inter-office romance in a big place. Quite another in the leaner and meaner(?) SCDP.

Silkstone, thanks so much for this labor of love. I can't believe how zoned in your are, nor how rapidly you can get imressions into words and words into text and have it all come out so astutely and coherently. Unlike the rest of the fan club, I see your column on Monday night as I tape MM and watch it the next day. I don't watch any other weekly series so I'll look for any off-season columns you're inclined to post. Thanks again very sincerely.
My full comments (as per usual, somewhat lengthy):

I have long maintained that people who say, "Life isn't fair" are only saying that to assuage their own guilt about the fact that they either just, or just about to, screw you over. This episode reminded me there's another phrase that works just the same: "It's only business." Baloney. It's people's lives; it can never be "only business". Hilton is just assuaging his own guilt at stabbing Don in the back. Don isn't whining that he's not earning everything he gets on his own; he's pointing out the truth (for a change): Connie played with him, and then discarded him as soon as it was inconvenient. And then claimed, "It's only business."

He may be a liar, a philanderer, and not a very nice guy, but Don built himself up from (quite literally) nothing; Connie has no cause to accuse him otherwise. In my view.

Funny how everyone who works on "Mad Men" has a Jewish name, but there are no Jews at Sterling Cooper. Or PPL. Or hardly anywhere, as near as one can tell. Ah, homogeneity!

Nice nod to the fact that a lot of bad business-related crap happens around the holidays; layoffs, firings, mergers . . . it's a bad time. But gotta cut those costs to make your year-end financials!

I think that Bert Cooper, with his bow tie and his goatee, is trying to look like Mark Twain; I hope no one points out to him that it makes him look more like the venerable and inscrutable Colonel than Twain.

Notice how Roger pulls out and lights a cigarette just before he talks about the "golden porkchop dangling from my neck," i.e. the Lucky Strike account. We sure lost something in personal interaction possibilities when we all quit smoking.

Geez, that was one bad day for Don, wasn't it? Started in a dead man's bed, late for his morning appointment with Connie, which was hideously awful. Had to push Bert and admit to being wrong to Roger. And then he gets a wonderful greeting of a lawyered-up Betty as soon as he gets home. Hell, I'd get a drink, too, if it were me.

Having been in Sally's situation--hell, I practically was Sally, all I can say is that I always find it completely unfair that when the kids get screwed because the adults fucked up.

Speaking of which, the situation is entirely too close to my own as a child for me to be objective, but I find Betty's declaration that it's Don that broke up the family to be disengenuous at best, and a flat-out lie (seeing as how she's about to bail out and go to Reno with her Secret Love) at worst.

The Japanese lover makes tea for the Brit; clever. (And is everyone still taking off their shoes in Bert's office? It looks like Lane isn't.) "Come join our club; we even made tea so that you will feel at home!"

The nice thing about those old black phones is that you could really slam those suckers down. If I slammed my office phone down the way Lane did, it would probably shatter. Or explode.

Peggy's reaction to Don's news is priceless to any person with more than, say, 5 years of experience in the tech industry. You're in that long, and you've been reorged, RIFed, laid off, had your company [bought | merged | collapse under you ] at least once. So when she said, with barely a flicker of surprise, "Again?" to Don when he gave her the news, I wanted to hire her for Juniper Tech Support or something. There's one resilient woman.

Every time I see the art in Peter and Trudy's apartment, I keep expecting to hear Dave Brubeck; don't ask me why.

How funny that, when Peter wants Don to tell him how good he is, Roger--the other guy who wanted to see Don "with his tail between his legs"--was in the room. All the talent that Don's been mistreating really got some of their own back, didn't they? Peggy, Roger, and Peter.

It honks me that the way the divorce is presented to the children is that "Daddy is moving out." Daddy is not moving out; Mommy is divorcing Daddy and has thrown him out. Betty lawyered-up; she faced down Don; she should at least have the stones to tell the kids the truth.

Not that I have a strong opinion or anything.

(And Sally cuts right to the chase: "Did you make him leave?" Are they going to go whole-hog with this thing now, and show Sally having to listen both to Betty dissing Don, and Don dissing Betty?)

Don's not a good person, but frankly, I'm finding Betty to be a worse one.

Is there ever a time when Peggy's posture is less than perfect?

Joan doesn't just show up, like Harry; she arrives, and makes an entrance. And her expression was worth the wait for her.

The grin that spreads across Harry's face when Peggy shows up is pretty priceless, too.

I love the two metaphorical "fuck you"'s: Don kicking open the door to the art department, and Roger telling Don "Don't bother" when he starts to lock the front doors.

I can't possibly be the only one who thinks that Lane is just as pleased as we are that Mr. Hooker won't be following him to his new job.

Peggy's office looks more like it was burgled and the burglar went out the window than that Peggy just left the company.

It looks like Don knows how to type. I know it's common for guys now, but when the heck did he learn then?

Is it just me, or is it actually significant that Don didn't immediately call up Suzanne or some other past conquest immediately upon being kicked out by Betty?

Ah, next August is a long way away, isn't it? What happened to those days when TV seasons were 26 weeks long, eh? I mean, 14 episodes? What's up with that?

See you next summer, folks.
I really hope to see much much more of Peggy. She's my favorite character, the one I most relate to, and I missed her this season. Thanks for all your great work, Silkstone!
Don has been a dick this season at home and work (pun intended), but he should be given credit for being the instinctive force of nature that he is. This season gave the complete arc of his background, if not all the details.

Dick was born a throwaway baby to a whore. (As a sidebar, when he calls Betty a whore, it is not just a word to him. Calling Dr. Freud!) Dick was given over to an abusive, poverty stricken family, which was a step up for him. In this last episode, we learn that he even loses the abusive father to an even more abusive economic system. I was kind of sympathetic to mean old, drunken Archie when I saw what he had to deal with. Then Dick goes to war (I have never been sure whether it was WW II or the Korean War).

By his early 20s, Dick has learned one big lesson. Life is BRUTAL. Even if you have a job or own your own business (farm), you can starve. Even if you have family, they can abandon, beat or fail you. If if you are not mad at anyone or no one is personally Mad at you, someone can try to kill you.

Frankly, I am surprised that Dick is neither a psychopath nor a sociopath. I am surprised he is not a raging alcoholic or a wife beater. He is a surviver.

Then, Dick becomes an escape artist supreme, Don. He takes a new identity. Don becomes an auto mechanic and then a clothes salesman. Don works out a mutually acceptable deal the real Don's widow. He joins SC and marries a Barbie doll named Betty.

By his 30s, Don not only knows that he is a lie, unlike the rest of us, he knows everything is one big lie. First and foremost, he knows the American Dream is a lie.

When we first meet Don, he is already looking to replace betty, or more accurately, fill the void in his life ceated by partnering with Betty. He knew then what we all learned this week. Betty was just along for the ride. She never knew Don or Dick and that was OK, as long as she was able to live in her Barbie Dream House. Don called her hand on it this week when he pointed out that she had gotten everything she wanted, because that is not the problem.

Betty did not bail on Don. She knew all along that Don was not Don because her father told her so from the get-go. We also know that Betty's father wanted her to be more than a Barbie doll because we watched him and heard him with Sally. And come on, she did not know that Don was sleeping around.

No, the dealbreaker was meeting Dick - Game Over! She confirmed what Dick knew all along. Philandering Don was good enough for her, but not Dick. It is not even about money. Betty needs a safe harbor of Status. Now she gets to hang around the Rockefellers. The new and improved Barbie Dream House.

For three seasons, Don and Dick have been looking for the anti-Barbie via a series of brunette, independent women. Dick now has a level of economic security. He also has a new level personal identification security. What will he do with it in his personal life?

So Dick and Don make their own new business family. Stirling, Cooper, Pete and maybe Peggy(?) already know that Don is Dick. If Pete knows, then Trudy probably knows. If Roger knows, then Joan probably knows. Poor Harry, well what does he know about anything?

Last season ended with Don escaping the British. This season began with him gaining perceived security by landing Hilton-NYC. But that became a trap which led to his signing a contract that locked him in. At the signing, Bert says, "After all, who is realing signing it anyway?" Later, Do tells Connie how happy he is to have him as a client. Connie responds with something like, "That's what they all say in the beginning." In the last episode, Don admits he is not an accounts man, which he had been trapped into. Maybe this is why he resented Roger so much this season. Roger can do it in his sleep and make it look like fun.

I am curious whether Dick will come out of the closet.

Apologies for the verbosity.
Hey Silkstone, excellent commentary. I think you're right about Betty and Henry (yawn) - she will end up in the exact same place she left after returning from Reno. Her threat to Don seemed innocuous to me, because the new, improved, mod-Sterling Cooper Draper Price has to define itself as the next-generation ad agency - one in which birthrights, gender and sexuality mean less and less. An agency that specializes in that American rarity - the obtainable dream for everyman.
I touched on this in a post a couple of weeks ago when discussing the role of Lane:
http://open.salon.com/blog/jamampoline/2009/10/28/mad_men_311_-_end_of_empire
Cheers, and thanks for the commentary!
The idea of small creative shops sort of came out of the late 60s to mid 70s. In the 80s it was all about mega mergers and large global agencies. With the advent of the Internet and DTP small and mid size agencies have been hard hit.

What is emerging are micro agencies that specialize in servicing a segment of the market or business for a very select group of clients you see the small and mid size agencies struggling to remain viable. The days of one agency of record for one client are gone. For large clients they could have dozens of agencies doing work for them. Everyone is competing for smaller and smaller profits to the point no one wants to take a risk. Marketing and agency services have become a commodity which explains why so much of what you see on TV or in print is dull. Few companies are innovative or are willing to take chances. By the time most advertising gets through legal, committee and the marketing focus groups it is drained of any spark of human originality.
Abra, Thanks! I think your assessment of where the future rifts may come is very accurate. It will be particularly interesting if they go in the direction I think they will, which is making this a new kind of ad agency with more fluid roles and edgier work and less hierarchy (and perhaps less sexism) than the old SC. That will diminish some conflicts but spark others.

Doug, I very much enjoyed your lengthier post-mortem as usual. I can't respond to everything you said but here's a few: Yes, the "only business" line is along the lines of saying "I'm going to tell you the truth" - a signal that just the opposite is occurring. Agree about the seasonal changes -- we always used to say, "It's a reorg; it must be Christmas" at one place I worked in the 80's that was prone to that - the memo always came out just before Xmas. And agree that Betty really did not take responsibility for ending the marriage -- but then, she really thinks Don's the one who ruined it, so why would she?? Sally got close to the truth by saying Betty made Don sleep in Gene's bed -- paging Dr Freud! Yes! on Dave Brubeck, Joan making an entrance and Lane ditching Hooker. And good catch on Don not calling Suzanne when Betty leaves. I think for the moment, he has a new love, a new wife, and it's the company he's building. I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay unattached for quite a while. Being single really suits him better, after all.

Tennessee, I think you're ready to get into the recap business, yourself! And to answer your question, Dick was in the Korean War. Roger served in WWII. It's a distinction he's ribbed Don about -- that he was in the 'real' war and Don wasn't.

Jam, thanks! and I agree with the probable direction of the new agency (per comment above). Of course that will shake up the likes of Bert and Roger (he's going to hear a lot more No's to his requests for coffee) as much as it might delight Peggy. And Pete's forward looking on some matters, but certainly not when it comes to women.
Thank you again for another wonderful recap & analysis of Mad Men. I look forward to your insight about Season 4 when it starts in August 2010. I'd love to see Joan put your recaps in the A&E section of Salon.
Beautiful work these past several weeks. I now have an even harder time waiting for next season.
Not only was your analysis great, it inspired great comments. I agree with the many points made by Douglas Moran, particularly these:
"Don's not a good person, but frankly, I'm finding Betty to be a worse one."
"He may be a liar, a philanderer, and not a very nice guy, but Don built himself up from (quite literally) nothing; Connie has no cause to accuse him otherwise".

Also many interesting points were made by TennesseCatfish.
Okay, so it's ten days later, and I'm sure nobody will read this, but this is what I'd have written had I been around while you guys were going at it (I've been out of the country and just catching up):

Pete: I think he is being misunderstood here, both as a character and in regard to Don. He and Don very much come from the same background, in that they are both overachievers who never got any approval from either of their parents (and, in the case of their fathers, were absolutely dismissed). Also, you forget too easily that Pete (apart from outing Don in ambitious frustration) has been very loyal to Don - first when Duck was trying to hose him, and later when Duck tried to woo Pete (Peggy was all too ready to bail).

Peggy: I'm not a fan, and am horrified when any of you mention she and Don possibly being together!

Joan: thank goodness she's back and she's bigger and badder than ever! I still say that she and Don end up together when Dr. Greg dies in Nam

Cosgrove: am I the only one who's going to miss Ken? And for that matter, the not-so-ambiguously gay duo of Smitty and "Hans". Sniveling Kinsey I can live without. Agree with whoever said bring back Freddie Rumsen!

Betty/Henry: I have to differ with most of you. I think Henry is no spring chicken, and he is grabbing a play pretty to dangle from his arm. What he doesn't realize is that he's grabbed a cold fish who also happens to be a tiger he is grabbing by the tail. I think next season will be about Betty walking all over him.

Sally: I don't know what's going to happen, but I can't wait! The summer of love can't get here fast enough!

Don: he's not a bad person. He's just like Clint Black sang: "I've been loving blind, loving everything I could call mine". Will be pretty entertaining to see what he pursues now that he is unshackled from Betty and himself.

Trudy: you're just now noticing her? Did you miss her in the green nightie? Hellllloooooooooo.

See y'all next season. It's been another great one!!!!
I see I missed a few final comments!

MTodd, I was sure I posted a comment thanking you as always for weighing in with your agency knowledge -- but looks like I didn't. so belated thanks. Your inside scoop and historical perspective are always welcomed!

Donkeyshins, thanks! And they are in fact now showing links to various OS posts in sections of "big" Salon. And I did get one in the A&E section when Heather's season end review was initially up.

Suz, I agree about the high quality of comments on these posts. I very much enjoying reading them and discussing the show with everyone here...in fact I miss our discussions here already, almost as much as I miss Mad Men!

UnderstandingDon, never too late for comments - thanks for taking the time. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

I agree about Pete -- I've liked him more and more as the show's gone on and you're right about how he's stuck by Don, even when it might go against him. I think that's why Don took him to the new mini agency. I'm curious why you dislike Peggy? I love her, but I definitely don't see her and Don together, ever. They're like siblings. But to disagree with you, I don't see Joan and Don as a match either. And yes, I always liked Kenny, too. I don't think we've seen the last of him.

I think Henry is a cipher -- to us as well as to Betty. That's good for us (suspense about the series) and bad for Betty. I think he may not turn out to be as ominous as we suspect, but I don't think he'll be a non-entity, either.

No, Don's not a bad person ...he's just drawn that way. ;)
Isn’t this exciting?